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How to recruit millennials to the workforce

01 December 2021

Ian Rawlings

Story by
Ian Rawlings, RVP EMEA at SumTotal

Ian Rawlings

UK employers have a recruitment crisis on their hands, according to research which shows the country is facing the worst labour shortage since the late nineties.

Over two-thirds of British companies looking for new talent are struggling to find candidates, which may just have something to do with the impact of two important forces upon the minds of this generation – technology and a sense of purpose.

The lens has now sharpened on the contribution that millennials can make to scaling up our workforce.

As we emerge from the pandemic, a desire to make the world a better place has resulted in the growing need to work for motives of greater good, and millennials want a ‘voice’ to make choices on the type of business they work for and their workspace.

More than just revenue

With ‘business purpose’ featuring in job ads across all sectors, there is clearly more to a business than building revenue. Engaging with workers, empowering them, and creating flexible working environments is just the start of what’s required to take on this tranche of new workers.

Understanding millennials as a group and what work means to them, is key to design roles with working practices and terms of work that will build their interest and loyalty.

A millennial is anyone born between 1981 and 1996, according to Pew Research, and they are a much in demand group of workers forming the new backbone for industry.

Millennials are making a big impact on the economy, even taking up leadership positions, and they have a new outlook on the world of work and how it needs to work for them.

With new technologies entering the workplace, organisations need different skillsets to deal with this.

For example, according to The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), manufacturing companies say finding the right skills for a role is 36% harder than it was back in 2018, even though nearly twice as many are freely available, due to today’s unemployment statistics.

These companies report that even with higher-paying entry-level roles, they are struggling to fill positions.

The reality of the crisis is such that 77% of manufacturers expect to have continual difficulties in attracting and retaining workers moving forwards.

Advice to recruit and retain millennials

Often described as ‘digital-natives’, millennials expect a quick and efficient hiring process and are attracted to work for companies with a strong company culture and sense of purpose. It’s no longer enough just for a business to make profit.

Organisations looking to hire millennials will need to streamline their recruiting tactics and communicate a clear commitment to workplace culture where employees are continually empowered and engaged.

Millennials seek employers that are open and honest, with leaders that self-assess, learn from their employees, and share their vision to generate a sense of belonging.

Jason Ryan Dorsey notes in his book “Y-Size Your Business” that Millennials make their mind up about a role by the end of their first day in the job.

A well-planned and smooth onboarding process is vital to ensure that a new joiner understands from day one what is expected of them.

Communicating how this new hire will contribute to the company mission and purpose is also key to onboarding and retaining millennials as employees.

Millennials favour more regular and instant communication, so ditching the yearly review and offering continuous feedback and coaching, particularly two-way feedback, to create mutual trust will build a strong working relationship. Frequent feedback boosts motivation and engagement and builds loyalty.

Diversity and inclusion

An employer who champions diversity and inclusion in the workplace will identify well with millennials. They are also more likely to stay with an organisation for longer if the workforce and senior management teams are diverse, according to Deloitte.

Millennials also appreciate flexible working arrangements that allow them the freedom to choose where and when they work.

And it’s not just technology companies that offer this flexibility. A recent survey by LinkedIn shows that a large segment of other industries, such as finance (40%), healthcare (36%), and manufacturing (33%), are embracing the full-time remote work model, too. Work-life balance is a priority for millennials when considering new jobs.

Millennials view their roles as skills-based development opportunities that serve as a stepping-stone to the next level in their career.

Therefore, an employer which invests in their professional growth, including training, upskilling and reskilling, and certification programmes, can set employees on a trusted development path from the beginning.

When describing their ideal job, 72 percent say they are more likely to value opportunities for career advancement (compared to 52 percent and 64 percent of baby boomers and gen Xers, respectively).

They also want the chance to learn new skills (72 percent), whereas only 48 percent of baby boomers and 62 percent of gen Xers prioritise that quality.

So, in addition to offering a good salary, benefits, and company culture, some additional ways to attract millennial talent include:

  1. Having a clear and open dialogue on their performance and opportunities
  2. Offering support to build their digital and “soft” skills
  3. Offering career growth plans
  4. Utilising digital tools and social media channels to engage

These are some ways to connect with millennials as a vital group for the future. To millennials, it’s the little things that matter and it’s essential to make your organisation attractive to this generation.

Ian Rawlings is the regional vice president of Europe, Middle East, and Africa at SumTotal

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